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Oak and 7th Street Sanctuary

Spring Practice Period

April 2nd to May 27th, 2023


The Invitation 

With pleasure and anticipation I invite you to join Brian Pilgrim and I for the 2023 Spring Practice Period . The Practice Period is a special span of time in which Zen practitioners are invited and encouraged to intensify their commitment to Buddhist practice. It is also a time when newcomers are able to experience Zen teachings through the strength of shared community intention and mutual support.  Although we will frequently participate over Zoom, there will be occasions when some of us will be able to gather in person: Here at Oak Street, at 7th Street in Boise and in Portland. (Find practice period application below this announcement.)

About Practice Period
Historically, Practice Periods were rainy season retreats for monastics and lay people. For the last 2,500 years, intensive training periods have been common in many schools of Buddhism. We, at Oak Street Zendo in San Francisco and 7th Street Zendo in Boise Idaho continue this tradition.

Each year in the spirit of those in monastic practice, we bring dharma practice to the foreground of our lives. We focus on everyday activity: (relationships, work, & regular sitting). Practice Period is also a time of increased community connection, when we have the opportunity to bear witness to each other’s lives and our shared experience of living and working together.

Our theme for Fall PP will be : Living with the Two Truths.  Our study will be based on two Zen Classics: Inside the Grass Hut: Living Shitou’s Classic Zen Poem '' and Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan. ''  All practice period participants are encouraged to procure these books for our study. Scholarship funds are available to those who request help.  And having set out on the path – whether we’ve been practicing for years or are just beginners – how do we keep our aspiration fresh and alive?


The Shuso

Our Practice Period features a student who serves as Shuso, (Head Student), sharing responsibility and assisting me in supporting our Practice. In addition to full participation in the practice schedule, the Shuso gives several talks & hosts small group gatherings.


This 2023 Spring Practice Period Shuso is Brian Pilgrim. He has been practicing with Oak Street Sangha for many years.  Brian received Lay Ordination (Jukai) from me at the Oak Street Zendo last year.



There are a variety of ways to engage with our Practice Period. Participants commit to a schedule which fits their circumstances, attempting to include as many of the sittings, gatherings and ceremonies as practical. One's involvement should be balanced: supportive of your practice and others, without being burdensome.


During this time you might choose to add more scheduled periods of zazen meditation to your week or make a commitment to attend several of the offered retreats and teas. Taking on a new practice relationship, or meeting more regularly in practice discussion with the teacher would also be appropriate. The Practice Period will also offer each participant a partner, with whom we make efforts to maintain contact and a relationship.


Ultimately we each should decide how we might deepen our commitment. Being clear about this will allow you to receive the benefits of the practice period, rather than experience it as additional demand or burden. Regardless of how busy you think you are, I encourage you to join and participate as completely as your life and practice allow.


All are welcome

We value the flexibility and freshness of the beginner’s mind in Zen practice. If you are new to Zen (or meditation practice in general) and are looking for a supportive way to enter Buddhist practice, we invite you to participate. We encourage & invite diversity.


Practice Period Activities


Opening Ceremony & Retreat

Practice Period starts with our monthly All Day Sitting including the PP Opening and Shuso Entering Ceremony on Sunday, April 2nd, from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM Pacific Time.


Group Meditation (Zazen)

Our regular morning and evening zazen schedule will continue over Zoom. Beginning with the opening of the Practice Period, we will sit together as usual at 6 PM, but also offer an early period, starting at 5:30 every morning, with the exception of Saturday. We also sit evenings at 7 PM on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings (Pacific Time). For those who request, there will be introductions to the forms of sitting Zazen and Zendo practice. All these activities can be accessed through the following link HERE:

Half Day Sitting Retreats

We will have 3 All Day Sittings over the course of the Practice Period. Each retreat day includes 6 periods of Zazen and walking meditation. An invitation and schedule will be distributed prior to each Half Day Sitting. The schedule also includes a Dharma Talk and conversation, noon service, lunch break, afternoon Zazen and a period of Dharma Study and a closing service. All Practice Period members are strongly encouraged to attend these retreats, which will include key ceremonies and group participation to support the community and our practice.


  • Saturday Morning Study Group: This weekly event begins with a short meditation period at 8 AM Pacific time, followed by reading and discussion. The primary texts used during the Practice Period are:“Inside the Grass Hut: Living Shitou’s Classic Zen Poem'' and “Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan'' The link is the same as our morning and evening sitting. As time permits, Brian may provide other sources to supplement those two collections.


  • Shuso Talks: The Shuso will give two formal talks. The first will be a traditional Way Seeking Mind Talk . The second talk will consider the theme of the Practice Period: Two Truths in Poetry and Song.


  • Tea with the Shuso: Participants are invited to attend tea in small groups with the Shuso, to discuss practice and get to know each other more informally. We hope to include an in person gathering for at least one or both of the Teas.  Zoom connections will be offered as well.


  • Practice Partners : A sangha partner is a person with whom you speak on the phone or in person several times during the Practice Period. Your request for a specific person will be considered, but partners will be determined by myself and Shuso.


Closing Retreat & Ceremony: Practice Period ends with a Day long sitting and a Shuso Ceremony on Saturday May 27th. This traditional ceremony allows the Shuso to respond to questions from Practice Period participants and invited guests, in an exchange known as dharma dialogue.


Calendar of Events

  • Sunday April 2nd  All Day Sitting, Practice Period Opening & Shuso Entering Ceremony

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & Sunday :5:30 to 7 AM    
    Morning Zazen: 2 Periods: 5:30 to 5:55 (optional), and 6:00 to 6:30-40

  • Monday, Tuesday & Thursday:  7 to 7:30 PM (Pacific) Evening Zazen

  • Saturday morning 8 to 9:30 AM Sitting and Study Class Discussion

  • April 16th :Tea with the Shuso: On Zoom with date & time to be confirmed

  • Saturday, April 29th All Day Retreat Including 2nd Shuso Talk

  • May 13th :Second Shuso Tea:  Date & time to be confirmed

  • May 27th All Day Sitting including Shuso Inquiry & PP Closing Ceremony



Once you have decided to participate, please enroll by filling out the Practice Period Commitment Form (which is located on the Oak Street Website) . We ask you to put in writing your intentions and let us know what activities you plan to attend.  By making your commitment explicit, putting it in your calendar and showing up, you are honoring yourself and your commitment to practice. The deadline for joining the Practice Period and submitting your form is March 30th, 2023.  Your timely response will allow Brian and I to consider and determine partners for the Practice Period.  Your partner will give additional opportunities to share challenges & support each other during the PP.



There is a suggested $100 donation for participating in the Practice Period.  Our sangha is also very pleased to offer up to 75% scholarships for those who would appreciate support.  Our intention is to encourage donations regardless of size.


Thank you very much,


Peter van der Sterre

& Brian Pilgrim

Oak and 7th Street Sanctuary

Fall Practice Period Commitment Form
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